Fall is flying by and the holiday season is quickly approaching. With Thanksgiving only a week away, now is the time to confirm your family’s travel plans and get organized. Whether you are hosting family in your home or traveling to visit friends and relatives, Thanksgiving can mean interruptions to your family’s sleep schedule if you do not plan well in advance. Sleep is key to your family functioning well, and this can be the difference between a happy holiday and a not-so-happy one.
The best way to ensure that your child’s sleep stays on track through the holidays is to adhere to your usual schedule, fitting the celebrations around naps and bedtimes. As parents, we have to be disciplined to get our children to stick to a sleep schedule, and holidays may make this particularly challenging, but it is worth it. Your child will be refreshed for a visit if it happens after a nap rather than instead of a nap. Skipping nap time will lead to cranky children and stressed-out parents in the short term and will mean you have to spend the days after Thanksgiving getting back on schedule.
Bedtime can also be tricky, particularly if you are sharing a house with children of different ages or adults who are still entertaining when it is time for your child’s bedtime routine. The most important thing to do is to allow for more time for your children’s bedtime routine. They have probably eaten differently than usual and may be excited by all of the activity. Some may be sleeping in an unfamiliar place. Even in the best scenario, it can take longer to get them to sleep, so it is best to be prepared.
If you are traveling over the holidays, here are a few suggestions for you to help with sleep and overall enjoyment.
- Think through sleep arrangements in advance.
- Bring any special security blankets or stuffed animals with you. You may think your child doesn’t need them every night, but in a new place, they can become extremely important.
- Get your child involved in the packing. Toddlers love picking out their own pajamas for a trip and adding a few special things to their suitcase.
- Travel during a time that works for your child’s schedule, avoiding drives or flights late at night.
- If you are driving during a time when your child is usually very active, plan to stop along the way at a playground to give your child a break and a chance to run around.
- If you are flying, pack your carry-ons carefully with extra clothes and supplies.
- Check airline regulations in advance for rules about strollers, booster seats and other gate-check items.
- Most importantly, give yourself extra time for everything: time to pack and prepare, time for travel, and time between activities. Holidays should not feel rushed and stressful.
Let me know if you found this article helpful.
Angela Walsh is a Family Sleep Institute, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and the founder of Babes in Sleepland. She helps sleep deprived babies, children and families, get back on track and get the sleep they need and desire. To learn more about Angela and how she can help you, visit her website: babesinsleepland.com. Also get sleep tips, the latest research on baby and child products, and be part of her weekly Q and A at her Facebook page: Babes in Sleepland and follow her on Twitter